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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Bush Tracks are Alive and Well in Florida

In most part of the country, betting races not sanctioned by the national and state breed associations are contested at bush tracks, tracks which operate outside of the law and either operate with the authorities turning a blind eye their way or eventually getting busted.

But then, in Florida, rules are different as a result of their, at best described half-ass laws, these tracks get sanctioned by the state to operate.  First came Gretna Entertainment, and now we have Oxford Downs which recently operated a nine race card with total purses of $18,000.  Their next race meet is planned for July, to qualify for a card room.

Curious to see what kind of horses and races were being contested, I checked the DRF for entries and results and to no one's surprise, they were nowhere to be found.  Should these horses make it to a sanctioned meet, these races will not be included in their past performance lines.

Why should this matter to standardbred interests in Florida?  Quarter horse permits were handed out in the Sunshine state like toilet paper and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some iteration of quarter horse 'racing' could end up near Pompano Park or even find a license transferred to Pompano to operate a meet there, kicking out standardbred interests (a la Michigan) to have a smaller loss leader.

The state's legislature was considering an all encompassing law revamping parimutuel racing in the state but that is on hold at the Governor's request as he negotiates a new compact with the Seminole Nation.  Why the legislature can't pass a law in the meanwhile merely defining what quarter horse racing is to avoid the operating of unsanctioned meets or shall we say 'phony' racing.  Then later they can deal with other issues, issues such as requiring a meaningful number of days of racing to qualify for card rooms, two days should not qualify, the issue of decoupling (which I oppose), how much money in alternative gaming proceeds which must find its way back to racing, and more difficult issues.  To let this type of face to continue is a sham and is doing a disservice to all horsemen in Florida, regardless of breed.

Florida has to decide whether or not they want to be a major state for horse racing and breeding or a joke.  The ball is in the legislature's court.

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